behind the music: crippled inside


John’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Crippled Inside’
From the book Imagine John Yoko


John: Songwriting is like getting the demon out of me. It’s like being possessed. You try to go to sleep, but the song won’t let you. So you have to get up and make it into something, and then you’re allowed to sleep. It’s always in the middle of the bloody night or when you’re half awake or tired, when your critical faculties are switched off.

‘Crippled Inside’ is a social comment. It talks about people having false fronts in society and really underneath there’s something else. Satire. There was one review of that song that said, ‘Oh, that kind of song has been done before…’ but I wasn’t even thinking about it. I was sitting down and this little riff came into me head, like an old Twenties song: ‘One thing you can’t hide is when you’re crippled inside.’ It just came to me, you know, like that, and I just finished it off.


The Evolution Mixes tell the story of each song on a journey from demo to master via instructions, rehearsals, recordings, multitrack exploration and studio chat. The complete set of Evolution Mixes (including the singles and extra tracks) is only available on the BluRay audio disc in the Box Set.


Klaus Voormann (bass): On ‘Crippled Inside’, John said he wanted an upright bass. I had never played one before, but he said, ‘No, you can play it!’ So John sent me to London with Mal Evans and we rockers went into this classical music store, full of very neat people wearing bow ties! Mal bought a really good, huge, full-size upright bass. John realised he wanted it played like a slap bass, and I couldn’t do it so I played the notes on the bass with my left hand and Alan White played the strings like drums, with his sticks.


Klaus Voormann and upright bass
Eddie Klein, Phil McDonald (standing), Phil Spector and John Lennon
Steve Brendell and John Lennon
Film stills from the BluRay/DVD Imagine/Gimme Some Truth


Eddie Klein (engineer): I remember for ‘Crippled Inside’, they got Steve Brendell in to play on Klaus’s double bass with drumsticks – such a novel idea – like Jerry Allison slapping his knees in the Buddy Holly record of ‘Everyday’. My memory is that it was Klaus fingering the bass and Steve playing it with sticks and it was played live. 


Crippled Inside Take 6 was the take selected and mixed to create the original album version. Here, however, you hear the original live studio performances, before the addition of reverb, echo and strings. The Raw Studio Mixes recreate the feeling of being in the centre of the recording studio, with the musicians all around you at the exact moment of the live recording. Often longer versions, all live, with no effects or overdubs, they are especially vivid and realistic in the immersive 5.1 Surround Sound versions on the Blu-Ray disc in The Ultimate Box Set.


Steve Brendell (bass): On one session I was spontaneously invited to play on ‘Crippled Inside’, a fantastic moment for me. Phil wanted to create a kind of honky-tonk, bar-room sound and suggested someone slap the strings of the double bass with drumsticks. John said, ‘Steve’s a drummer, get him in there.’ So, swiftly armed with a pair of sticks, I joined Klaus who was standing there with an upright bass and I started to slap the strings as Klaus manoeuvred his way around the neck of the bass. We had a couple of run-throughs and then Phil decided to do a take.

Drawings by Klaus Voormann (2004), depicting his memories
of the ‘Imagine’ album recording and mixing sessions at Ascot
Sound Studios and Record Plant, New York in May and July 1971.
From the book Imagine John Yoko


Rod Lynton (acoustic guitar): The first time I worked with John was on the Imagine sessions. Mal Evans rang me and asked me to organise some musicians. So I brought Ted Turner from Wishbone Ash, Andy Davis from Stackridge, and John Tout from Renaissance. I spent three days at Tittenhurst.


Rod Lynton
Mal Evans
Ted Turner
Andy Davis
John Tout

Polaroids from the book Imagine John Yoko


Ted Turner (12 string acoustic guitar): John Lennon walked in the room, sat down on the stool in the centre, looked around and asked, in that inimitable Liverpudlian accent, ‘Is everybody ready, like? One, two, three….’ And that was it. One take! I was smiling like a Cheshire cat! It felt like no time at all, but in that moment, me playing with two of the Beatles…it was magic!


Take 3 of Crippled Inside features all the same musicians as the album version (Take 6). It’s a bit looser, a bit buskier, a bit more raw, and has a great charm because of it. John Lennon: electric guitar & vocal, George Harrison: dobro, Nicky Hopkins: piano, Klaus Voormann and Steve Brendell: double bass and drum sticks, Rod Lynton and Ted Turner: acoustic guitars, Alan White: drums.


John: Whatever suit you’re wearing, tie you’re wearing, whatever face you’re putting on, it always shows really in your face, in your eyes, what’s really going on in your soul. And there’s nothing you can hide.

People hide from each other all the time. Everybody’s frightened of saying something nice about somebody in case they don’t say something nice back or in case they get hurt. Everybody’s uptight and they’re always building these walls around themselves. All you can do is try and break down the walls and show that there’s nothing there but people. It’s just like looking in the mirror.

Yoko: Next time you meet a ‘foreigner’, remember it’s only like a window with a different shape to it and the person who’s sitting inside is you.


John Lennon (acoustic guitar), George Harrison (dobro)
and Klaus Voormann (upright bass)
Film stills from the BluRay/DVD Imagine/Gimme Some Truth


Ultimate Mix Out-take – Take 6 of Crippled Inside, mixed in the style of the album, with an alternate Dobro solo by George Harrison, starting at 1:28.


John: It was scary as a child, because there was nobody to relate to. Neither my auntie nor my friends nor anybody could ever see what I did. It was very scary and the only contact I had was reading about an Oscar Wilde or a Dylan Thomas or a Vincent Van Gogh – all those books that my auntie had that talked about their suffering because of their visions. Because of what they saw, they were tortured by society for trying to express what they were. I saw loneliness.

Yoko: I had a daddy, a real daddy. A big and strong father like a Billy Graham. But growing up, I saw his weak side. I saw the hypocrisy. So whenever I see something that is supposed to be so big and wonderful – a guru or primal scream – I’m very cynical.

John & Yoko on the balcony at Tittenhurst, 21 July 1971.
Panorama from the book Imagine John Yoko – Collector’s Edition


John: It’s easier to shout ‘Revolution’ and ‘Power To The People’ than it is to look at yourself and try to find out what’s real inside you and what isn’t, when you’re pulling the wool over your own eyes. That’s the hardest one.

I used to think that the world was doing it to me and that the world owed me something, and that either the conservatives or the socialists or the fascists or the communists or the Christians or the Jews were doing something to me; and when you’re a teeny-bopper, that’s what you think.

I don’t think that any more, ‘cause I found out it doesn’t fucking work! The thing goes on anyway, and all you’re doing is jacking off, screaming about what your mommy and daddy or society did; but one has to go through that.

For the people who even bother to go through that – most assholes just accept what is going on – I have found out personally, not for the whole world, that I am responsible for it as well as them. I am part of them. There’s no separation; we’re all one. So in that respect, I look at it all and think, ‘Ah, well, I have to deal with me again in that way. What is real? What is the illusion I’m living or not living?’ And I have to deal with it every day. The layers of an onion. But that is what it’s all about.

I am just myself, and the image I project, like how much hair I’ve got, or whether I wear blue or green glasses, or whether I paint my nails, is a matter of choice. I had a ‘Lennon’ image and a ‘John’ image, two separate things. I’ve always been like that. I was the class clown. That was my way of getting love or attention. Whatever I do, I have to be myself
to a degree.

Yoko: It’s sad that society is structured in such a way that people cannot really open up to each other, and therefore they need a certain theatre to go to, to cry or something like that.

Art to me is a way of showing people how you can think. To be an artist you need courage and most people don’t think that. It’s an age where people are only interested in entertainment. People are just entertained every day, like crazy, and that’s all they’re doing. And they say: ‘This is boring – let’s see something else.’

We are all kings and queens now, asking others to entertain us. It’s a very sad situation, because there are many things that we have to do if we want to survive.

John at the kitchen table, Tittenhurst 26 May 1971.
From the book Imagine John Yoko


John: Paul’s parents were terrified of me and my influence, simply because I was free from the parents’ stranglehold. That was the gift I got of not having parents. I have cried a lot about not having them and the torture it was. Some people cannot see that their parents are still torturing them, even when they are in their forties and fifties; they still have that stranglehold over them and their thoughts and their minds and everything.

This image of me being the orphan is garbage because I was well protected by my auntie and my uncle and they looked after me very well, thanks. There were five women that were my family. Five strong, intelligent beautiful women, there were five sisters. One happened to be my mother. My mother just couldn’t deal with life. She was the youngest. And she had a husband who ran away to sea and the war was on and she couldn’t cope with me and I ended up living with her elder sister.

My mother was alive and lived a fifteen-minute walk away from me all my life and I saw her sporadically all the time. I just didn’t live with her. She got killed by an off-duty cop who was drunk after visiting my auntie’s house where I lived, but I wasn’t there at the time. So that was another big trauma for me. I lost her twice. Once as a five-year-old, where I was moved in with my auntie, and once again at fifteen where she actually physically died. I was at art school. So I must have been seventeen. And that was a really hard time for me and it just absolutely made me very, very bitter. And the underlying chip on my shoulder that I had as a youth was really big then. Being a teenager and rock and roller… and mother being killed just when I was re-establishing a relationship with her. It was very traumatic for me.


Faithfully remixed from the ground up using high definition 24-96 audio transfers of the original first generation multi-track recordings, The Ultimate Mixes reveal whole new levels of sonic depth, definition and clarity. On the BluRay audio disc in the Box Set, The Ultimate Mixes are available in high definition 24-96 Stereo and exclusively in stunning 5.1 Surround Sound.


Yoko: I remember the severe bombing in Tokyo, hiding in an air-raid shelter listening to the sound of the bombs coming closer and then going away, and feeling that my mother and I lived another day. I remember being evacuated to the country; the food shortage, and starving; going to the next village to find rice for my brother and sister; being stoned by the village kids who hated people from the city; getting anaemic and being diagnosed as having pleurisy; being abused by a doctor, and having my appendix taken out without proper anaesthetics because of the shortage of medicine. I remember how I cried at the end of the war, how bombed out Tokyo looked when I returned from the country on the back of a truck, and what we went through daily, reading about the people in Hiroshima. The ones who died of burns went quickly. The ones who died of leukaemia went through a slow and agonizing death. We lived through their death.

When I had this apartment in New York, I was imagining myself all the time as a kite, holding on to a kite, and when I was sleeping, I’d lose my string and go off floating. That’s the time I thought: I’ll go crazy. I was just holding the string, making sure that I wouldn’t let go.

Around the time that I met John, I went to a palmist – John would probably laugh at this – and he said, ‘You’re like a very fast wind that goes speeding around the world.’ And I had a line that signified astral projection. The only thing I didn’t have was a root. But, the palmist said, ‘You’ve met a person who’s fixed like a mountain, and if you get connected with that mountain you might get materialized.’ And John is like a frail wind, too, so he understands all these aspects. I’m not searching for the big daddy. I look for something else in men – something that is tender and weak and I feel like I want to help.

John: And I was the lucky cripple she chose!


Film stills from ‘Crippled Inside’ and ‘Good Morning’ from the film Imagine
From the book Imagine John Yoko



Text and page excerpts above from the book Imagine John Yoko
Music from Imagine The Ultimate Collection
Film and film stills from Imagine/Gimme Some Truth BluRay/DVD



and so this is xmas…
imagine peace and love
the ultimate gifts this holiday season